In a Sunburned Country is my third Bryson read after A Walk in the Woods and A Short History of Nearly Everything, and I have to say his work is really growing on me. You won’t walk away with a PHD in any topic or place he tackles but you will walk away with something that is harder to get in a course or reference book; empathy. Bryson paints a enchanting collection of colorful strokes in his journey about Australia, at once confirming the unbelievable while peeling away stereotypes. I think American and British readers in particular will benefit from the contrasts and comparisons he offers up between those cultures and their Australian counterparts.
While a diplomatic travler, Bryson is not shy in his observations. He is candid and frank where appropriate (aboriginal issues and conservation) but balances his writing with an open-minded and appreciative perspective where it is due (Australian uniqueness and contributions). All with his trademark wit and humor. I suspect that natives as well as “reading tourists” will enjoy the book equally and laugh out loud at least as many times as I did when reading it. Frankly, I can’t wait to pick up another one of his works from my towering “to read” stack.